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Caligula’s Horse Concert Review by cramx3, February 3rd at Gramercy Theater, New York City, NY

Caligulas Horse 1

It was a very cold, but beautiful Saturday in New York City when Caligula’s Horse performed at Gramercy Theater. This is the Australian band’s first tour of the United States (plus Canada) and therefore, the first time playing in the United State’s largest city.  They have only performed twice in the United States. Both times at the ProgPower festival in Atlanta. Their most recent being just five months prior to this tour where they wowed the crowd leaving people like myself salivating at the thought of them coming back.  Since that time, the band has released a new album, “Charcoal Grace” and booked this tour, which kicked off just a few days prior. The band tried to make this tour happen previously, but was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It took almost four years, but the stars finally aligned to make this show and tour happen.  The fans were eager in anticipation as a long line formed outside the venue an hour before doors would open.

Caligula’s Horse’s touring partner is Earthside and they brought a visual and sonic display of progressive metal. They came out just before 8pm to check their instruments and welcomed the New York City crowd to the show.  They played a 5 song set that lasted a full 45 minutes so you know these were long and dense songs, focusing strongly on instrumental mastering.  They had a very energetic stage presence with the keyboardist really showing his love for the music while air drumming to the music when not playing or running back and forth on the stage with a keytar.  Including, a set ending fall to the ground as if he laid it all on the line for this show.  There were no live vocals during their set, instead having a video display with artistic visuals and images of the guest vocalists performing the vocals on tape. While vocals on tape may seem odd, it felt right for this band and music as the vocals felt more like being complementary to the live instrumentalists compared to a lead. One other worthwhile mention was that Earthside was performing on the same drum set that Caligula’s Horse would use. Between songs, the guitarist mentioned this being sort of a home town show with their families and record label in attendance and the crowd gave them a great reaction leading to lots of smiles from the band.

Before Caligula’s Horse took the stage, the crew cleared everything, but the drum set off the stage leaving a very bare stage front with lots of room for the band to breathe. A Caligula’s Horse logo backdrop also became visible. The venue filled out quite well with very little room on the general admission floor and the small stadium style seating in the back had few empty chairs.  You could sense the anticipation of the crowd to see the band perform for the first time at this venue.
The lights soon went down as it was time for the band to hit the stage.  An orchestrated opening sequence of soft music came on as the drummer, Josh Griffin, walked onto the stage and into his drum platform, followed by the bassist and guitarist, Dale Prinsse and Sam Vallen, respectively. They then started the first notes you hear when you listen to their latest album, the song “The World Breathes with Me”.  A perfect way to open the show, not just by representing the new album, but the song itself reflects back to the covid pandemic which delayed this concert from happening for many years.  The song is a blistering prog epic lasting a full ten minutes and erupts with an ending that made the crowd sing loudly and jump.  A moment when you realize this is going to be a special night of music.

Before they could even get to the next song, the singer, Jim Grey, greeted the crowd to a loud applause.  The next two songs were two of their shorter, punchier songs that were lead singles for the latest album, and the previous “Rise Radiant”.  The headbanging ensued to “Golem”, the first of the new songs released by the band in 2023 before the full release of “Charcoal Grace” just over a week back on January 26th. Jim took over the mic before “Slow Violence” and directly engaged the crowd.  Almost felt like a comedy show where the comedian was taking on hecklers as Jim left the crowd in tears of laughter. 

They next went back to their 2015 release “Bloom” with the song “Rust” that got a very large cheer when announced.  If you weren’t already amazed by Sam Vallen’s incredible guitar playing, you would be by the time he showed off in “Rust”.  His sparkling red guitar amazed the crowd throughout the entire set.  They followed this up by sticking with “Bloom” and doing the way the album starts with the incredible combo of the title track “Bloom” into “Marigold”.  From the soft intro to the incredible transition and eruption into “Marigold”, the crowd went wild! 

Jim then introduced the band as people in the crowd yelled they loved them.  There was truly a great connection between the band and crowd on this night even if Jim admitted that interacting one on one with people from the audience might not have been the best idea. They went back to the harder hitting short songs from “Rise Radiant” with “The Tempest” and “Oceanrise”.

They then changed it up by playing a non single, the opening track from the “In Contact” album, “Dream the Dead” which the crowd was yelling for right before they started to play it. A beautiful progressive song displaying emotion and some of Jim Grey’s best vocal performances of the evening as the crowd clapped along to the song’s climax. 

The band went back to their latest album “Charcoal Grace” to play the final two tracks of the album.  Closing out what they started when they opened the show with the first two tracks from the album.  Jim had the crowd laughing while introducing “The Stormchaser” saying it is not an easy song to sing along to.  The set ended with the beautiful “Mute” which starts with some incredible vocals that you could feel inside you and ends with the band owning the crowd from an awe inspiring set that was just witnessed. 

The night, however, was not over after they left the stage.  There was one more song for the encore, the fan favorite “Graves”.  There was no way the band would tour North America for the first time and not perform this.  The energetic crowd went even further with a small mosh pit breaking out for the wild outro chanting “Hands Shape Stone”.  Before taking a picture with the crowd and leaving the stage.  The band mentioned they will be back giving hope to a future US tour.  If this concert was an example, the band has shown, they have a loud and active fan base here for them.

Caligula’s Horse are

Jim Grey – lead vocals
Sam Vallen – lead guitar
Josh Griffin – drums
Dale Prinsse – bass

Charcoal Grace North America Tour 2024 with special guests Earthside as well as three live dates in April for the Australian East Cost Tour with Wheel.
Tickets available at caligulashorse.com.

US:  

01/31 Union Stage – Washington,DC
02/01 Underground Arts – Philadelphia, PA
02/02 Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall
02/03 New York, NY – The Gramercy Theatre
02/04 Montreal, QC – Le Studio TD
02/06 The Axis Club – Toronto, ON
02/07 Thunderbird Cafe & Music Hall – Pittsburgh, PA
02/08 Lincoln Hall – Chicago, IL
02/10 Exit – Nashville, TN
02/12 The Underground – Charlotte, NC
02/13 The Masquerade (Hell) – Atlanta, GA
02/15 Come Take it Live – Austin, TX
02/16 Granada Theatre – Dallas, TX
02/18 Nile Half House – Phoenix, AZ
02/19 Brick By Brick – San Diego, CA
02/20 The Echoplex – Los Angeles, CA
02/21 Cornerstone – Berkley, CA
02/23 El Corazon – Seattle, WA
02/24 Hawthorne Theatre, Portland, OR
02/25 Rickshaw Theatre, Vancouver, BC

04/25 Max Watts, Melbourne, AU
04/26 Manning Bar, Sydney, AU
04/27 Triffid, Brisbane, AU

Caligula’s Horse newest Charcoal Grace album is OUT NOW, through InsideOut Music and you can Order it here: https://caligulashorse.lnk.to/CharcoalGrace-Bio

Caligulas Horse album cover

Tracklist:

The World Breathes With Me (10:00)
Golem (05:20)
Charcoal Grace I: Prey (07:48)
Charcoal Grace II: A World Without (06:48)
Charcoal Grace III: Vigil (03:22)
Charcoal Grace IV: Give Me Hell (06:13)
Sails (04:31)
The Stormchaser (05:57)
Mute (12:00)

Charcoal Grace is available as Ltd. CD Digipak, CD Jewelcase (US only), Gatefold 2LP in various colours & Digital Album. 

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